Billboards for a Chinese technology giant are telling us, "5G without Huawei is like rugby without New Zealand." The second part of that message is certainly true. World rugby without New Zealand would be an empty shell.

With plans afoot for a global rugby calendar that excludes the Pacific Islands, it is time for New Zealand Rugby to assert itself more than it usually does.

Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are more deserving of a place in this proposed league than some of those to be included. The islands do not have the population and commercial weight of those included but they have the players, the heritage, and enthusiasm to beat them when they get the chance. New Zealand and Australia know this well, their rugby is greatly strengthened and enriched by players from the islands or born here of Pacific heritage.

It's time for both countries to insist the islands are treated fairly in World Rugby's plans. If an annual global competition cannot include three more teams, the planners need to think again. If that means a pool system giving at least one island side a chance to make the play-offs, so be it. Something can be done.


Fiji is delighted that NZ Rugby has agreed to hold a sevens international there when New Zealand hosts the men's and women's tournaments. The islands have been grateful for anything NZ Rugby has provided for them over the years though it has been little enough. League has done more.

It's time for NZ Rugby to use the weight it would carry if it puts it to the test. It's time to tell, not ask, northern unions what must be done for the Pacific game.